Alberto Juantorena - Cuba - Double Olympic Champion in Montreal 1976.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 25 July 1976

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      Sunday, 03 December 1950
      Santiago, Cuba
  • Cuba
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Alberto JUANTORENA - Cuba - Double Olympic Champion in Montreal 1976.


The athletics world could easily have never witnessed the brilliance of Cuban running legend Alberto Juantorena. Young Alberto's first sporting love was basketball, but in 1971 he decided to try athletics as an alternative, moving to Havana where he came under the tutelage of Polish coach, Zygmunt Zabierzowski. Within a few months he had recorded a time of 48.2sec for 400m, and his progress was so rapid that he finished fifth in his 400m semi-final at the following year's Olympic Games in Munich. He first starting making headlines in 1973 when he won the 400m at the World University Games in Moscow, and the following year he headed the world rankings, with a time of 44.7sec recorded at Turin on 24 July. In 1975, he produced the second-fastest time of the year, 44.80sec, when he finished second at the Pan-American Games in Mexico City on 18 August.


Two days later, he anchored the Cuban 4 x 400m relay team to a silver medal at the same championships. In 1976, Juantorena decided to attempt the unusual double of the 400m and 800m at the Montreal Olympic Games. Although he was a definite gold medal chance for the 400m, few thought that he would seriously challenge the main contenders in the 800m. Juantorena had only seriously decided to contest the 800m that year, setting times of 1min 46.9sec and 1min 46.1sec early in the year in Cuba, and then an impressive 1min 45.2sec in Italy just prior to the Olympics. In the 800m final at Montreal, on 25 July, Juantorena quickly established the lead, reaching 400m in 50.85sec. At 600m, Juantorena was briefly challenged, but he then just powered away from his opposition, winning the gold medal easily (see photo above), in a new world record time of 1min 43.50sec. (Ron Casey)